Student wins place at youth theatre

A Sixth Form pupil from Ashville College has won a coveted place with the country’s most prestigious youth arts organisation.

Friday, 5th June 2020, 2:00 pm

In her audition for the National Youth Theatre, Ellie Schaiper performed Grace’s monologue from The Faith Healer by Brian Friel, as well as participating in group activities, ensemble work and an interview.

Ellie, who spent every lunch time and evening rehearsing in the buildup to the audition said: “I was very nervous about the audition, but thanks to Mr Boyd, and the hours of preparation, I got through. I was extremely lucky to have him in my corner.

“On the morning when I received the email confirming my place, I started screaming and jumped out of bed while yelling to my parents.

“That evening, I joined the other successful auditionees for a ‘Zoom’ call with National Youth Theatre CEO and Artistic Director, Paul Roseby.”

Part of the group work auditions included the young hopefuls yelling at one another as if they were on the set of EastEnders, which as an American, she found the most challenging aspect of the day.

The final part of the group activities saw Ellie and her cohort split into groups of six and seven to create a five-minute performance, based on personal stories, while incorporating a cross, a bridge, a tower, a moment of song, audience participation, and a moment of chaos or confusion.

Two days prior to attending the assessment at Headingly Enterprise and Arts Center in Leeds, Ellie auditioned for Shrek the Musical with the Harrogate St Andrew’s Players, where she was offered the role of ‘The Elf’.

However, Ellie has unfortunately had to turn the role down as the performance has since been postponed from October 2020 to October 2021, which will be her first year of university.

In the run up to her National Youth Theatre audition, Ellie read her chosen monologue - which includes a number of tricky Welsh town names - over and over again until she was word perfect and knew it off by heart.

Karl Boyd, Ashville College’s Head of Drama, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled for Ellie.

“Being selected to join the National Youth Theatre is a wonderful achievement, and one that will hopefully open many doors for her.

Ellie, who currently studies A Level History, English Literature and BTEC Drama at Ashville, added: “I now have to complete the summer intake course in August, and afterwards I will be an official NYT company member, and will be able to find out more about the immediate opportunities available to me.

“Normally those accepted would take this course in London, however, once again due to the virus, this year’s intake course will be done via ‘Zoom’.

“After the summer intake course, I should have the opportunity to audition for productions within the company as well as their Rep Company, in addition to masterclasses and talks with industry professionals.

“However, due to the current pandemic situation and lock down, it is hard to say how any theatre company will run in the near future, so at present we are unsure when productions will return to the live stage”

Famous Ashville alumni who began their careers performing in plays at the independent school include Downton Abbey star, Jim Carter, and Oscar-winning film director, Tony Richardson, both of whom were Head Boys.

Old Ashvillian, Lewis Robinson, is also making a name for himself in the world of film making, recently winning the Audience Choice Award at Harrogate Film Festival for his short film, Addiction, which was shot in and around his home town.